Mr. Allen is hanging onto a ladder with one arm, a book in his hand, reading, he was sorting books on the high shelves of his bookstore but he found an interesting book, he may be up there for hours. Ricky is sitting on the sofa next to me reading the latest Fantastic Four comic book. Sally is curled up on the floor sleeping. I’m reading the new Flash. Ricky and I are readers, not collectors. Mr. Allen has a three-for-one exchange program, we turn in three old comics and he gives us one new one. We do all our reading here, leave our books here and Mr. Allen lets us know when it’s time for a free one. Today is a free day.
“Mr. Allen!” I shout so he can hear me above the story he is reading.
“How can I help you?” he asks without leaving his book.
“Do you believe there could be intelligent life in the universe?” it’s just something I’ve been wondering about.
“Counting Earth?” he asks with a grin, actually leaving his book for a second to look at me and see if I get the joke.
“I know all about Earth,” I answer. “Out there,” I point to the sky, “any intelligent life up there?”
“No idea,” he goes back to reading. That’s one of the things I like about Mr. Allen – he doesn’t do a lot of speculation.
Ricky, on the other hand, loves to speculate, “they would be much different. We might not even understand their intelligence. Or they could be so small that we pay no attention to them. Or covered with purple fur!” he laughs at his own joke and returns to the Fantastic Four.
We walk down the center of the brick covered walkway of our quiet town scanning from right to left as we walk, watching for anything out of the ordinary – anything that might need our attention. The comics have brought the super hero in us to the surface and we need to express our powers.
“What’s that?” Ricky asks as a cat scampers down a narrow alley between two stores.
“Cat,” I answer and continue to scan.
“What’s he doing?” I ask, watching a guy unlock a bike and remove it from a bike rack.
“Guy unlocking his bike,” Ricky answers in a monotone like the police use sometimes on TV.
Sally barks once, just to let the guy know we are watching him. We keep walking one step at a time down the center of the brick covered walkway, scanning from left to right looking for something the needs our attention.